Monday, December 06, 2004

Galloway/Sheridan claim and counter-claim

An apparent exclusive from The Mail On Sunday claiming George Galloway intends to stand for the Scottish Parliament in alliance with Tommy Sheridan followed by a press release from the Scottish Socialist Party denying it - PolPop

The Mail On Sunday, 05/12/04

Galloway to team up with Sheridan for assault on Labour seats at Holyrood.

EXCLUSIVE By Jane Simpson

REBEL MP George Galloway wants to stand as an MSP and is planning to launch a ferocious assault on the Scottish parliament. And he revealed he is considering a radical joint assault on the parliament with former Scottish Socialist Party leader Tommy Sheridan.

Mr Galloway believes the recent implosion of the SSP, coupled with its treatment of Mr Sheridan over newspaper allegations, has created a crucial opening for his anti-war party, Respect, in the 2007 Holyrood elections. Attacking First Minister Jack McConnell's `parody' of an administration, Mr Galloway, 50, said he was certain Scots voters would support his alliance with Mr Sheridan in its bid to win seats from the Labour Party. Speaking exclusively to the Scottish Mail on Sunday, Mr Galloway added: `I would certainly like to contend in Glasgow for the Scottish parliament elections. `Tommy and I would be a great double act, a dream ticket and people would vote for us. I am certain that together we could set the cat among the
pigeons. `Tommy is still fighting his corner in the SSP but I fear he will have to accept they have betrayed him and move on.' Mr Galloway revealed his Holyrood plans after winning £150,000 damages from The Daily Telegraph over an article suggesting he was on Saddam Hussein's payroll. And just days ago he announced that he will step down as MP for Glasgow Kelvin to stand for Parliament in Bethnal Green and Bow at next year's General Election under his new Respect party banner. Although he could be a Westminster MP if he wins the East London seat, he said that would not necessarily stand in the way of his Scottish ambitions.

He explained: `We are talking about two years down the line. `If I am in Westminster we'll have to see if it is possible and look at the situation in more depth. If I am not in Westminster then obviously it is more possible.' The MP, who vowed the Labour Party would `rue the day' it ditched him over his anti-war views, said Respect has already started to explore the best way to use the proportional representation list system to wins Holyrood seats at the 2007 elections. Yesterday, Mr Galloway kicked off his assault on Holyrood with a stinging attack on Mr McConnell and the Labour-LibDem coalition. He said: `Jack McConnell's administration is all about small-time with small horizons and lacking in its ideas. It is a shameless parody of what Labour is supposed to be. `They strike me more as people running Cumbernauld town council than powering the whole of Scotland and I think the country deserves etter.' Mr Galloway, who won his Glasgow Kelvin seat for Labour with a majority of more than 7,000 at the last General Election, would have a powerful support base if he contested the Holyrood elections.

Respect, The Unity Coalition was launched last January as an alternative to Labour. It now has a reported 1,000 members Mr Galloway intends to steer it down a more socialist path. As well as its strong anti-war stance, party policies include linking pensions to earnings and repealing union laws. Mr Sheridan was one of the speakers who took to the stage to offer support at the launch of the party. Yesterday, Mr Galloway said he had discussed the extra-marital allegations about Mr Sheridan with the former SSP leader, who claims never to have met the woman at the centre of the reports - now the subject of legal action. Since the story appeared, there has been bitter division within the SSP and members have admitted they are in crisis. Mr Galloway added: `The Scottish Socialist Party has made a catastrophic blunder.

It is my estimation that much more than half, maybe even much more than three-quarter who voted for them, did so because of Tommy Sheridan. `The idea that these unknown Trotskyite apparatchiks who have done him down are going to get the same kind of vote that they did when led by Sheridan seems to me inherently improbable. These people who have done him down are not fit to tie his shoe laces.' Mr Galloway has stated he has made no plans for his libel winnings as they have been frozen until The Daily Telegraph makes a decision whether or not to appeal. He added: `In the end I will spend it on my political life, which is what I spend my existing earnings on.'

SSP Research, Policy & Media Unit Press Release: 05/12/04 Eddie Truman:

SSP attacks Galloway for attempting to split left in Scotland

The Scottish Socialist Party today angrily condemned George Galloway for coming to the aid of New Labour with a threat to split the left vote in Scotland In an article in The Mail on Sunday George Galloway raises the prospect of Tommy Sheridan standing as a Respect Unity Coalition candidate at the next Scottish Parliament elections.

Today Tommy Sheridan categorically ruled out any such move. Tommy said; "I don't know why George is raising this idea. "I am absolutely committed to the Scottish Socialist Party and expect to be a leading candidate for the party in the 2007 Holyrood election. "Respect is doing a good job in England of campaigning against the Iraq war and raising basic socialist policies but there is already a socialist party in Scotland, it is called the SSP. "I have no plans to be anything other than a representative of the Scottish Socialist Party and if George wants to stand for the same list as me he will have to join the SSP before the next Scottish Parliament elections."

An SSP spokesperson condemned George Galloway's comments outright and accused him of coming to the aid of New Labour by threatening to split the left vote in Scotland.

The spokesperson said; "We are disappointed that George Galloway has launched this astonishing attack on the SSP, based on ignorance and misinformation. We are angry that George Galloway has launched this attack in a right wing newspaper with a tawdry track record of promoting racism and virulent anti-trade unionism. "George Galloway has made no attempt to contact any member of the SSP executive to clarify the facts behind Tommy Sheridan's resignation. "The Scottish Socialist Party has assisted and supported the development of the Respect Coalition in England. Unfortunately, it appears that George is prepared to cynically exploit the short term difficulties faced by the SSP to further his own parliamentary ambitions. "The SSP has united the left in Scotland and was campaigning for peace and socialism years before George Galloway finally broke with New Labour. "The only people who could benefit from a divided left in Scotland would be the British establishment and New Labour on both sides of the border. "The Scottish Socialist Party will be writing to the Respect Unity Coalition in England to call upon the party to dissociate from George Galloway's divisive outburst."


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